Friday, October 18, 2013

Icy with Echoes

1031, Autumn

The Draki family were old and noble, made up of royal and knightly bloodlines, they had been charged with custodianship of Iridia back when the forming of Marlowe had just begun. Since those times the respect they commanded had dwindled, and instead been replaced by fear. Both men and women born of the Draki family were rumoured to be vicious, acting without mercy. There were tales of women suffocating their own children, who were born the wrong sex, and men who carelessly maimed their slaves, for entertainment.
All of those rumours were irrelevant though. The Draki family were atop the list of loyal houses to the crown, and Reina was not hesitant in making her visit known. She had however, given little notice of the girl accompanying her. Rionna was the quiet type, and Reina guessed she was also the conniving type. And so she had rode ahead without escort to reach the home of the famous Draki clan. They still resided in the massive fortress, built over a century ago to withstand any battle, and the cold stone was icy with echoes of the past lives that it had once housed.
Janoah Draki had immediately invited the queen inside, offered food and drink, and a place to sit by the fire.

“I am so honoured by your presence, your grace” Janoah said kindly. “When I read Milena’s letter, I sensed urgency about it, and your arrival has proven that my friend is in need.”
Reina smiled at the woman who sat across from her, it wasn’t often that a wife was made of a lesser-born.

“Thank you for receiving me with such haste, lady. I am indeed afraid to share that Milena has sent me on a bit of a man hunt.”
Reina heard the cough of a man inhaling his drink, and smiled to herself. Taol Draki was a lord of the king’s court, and Reina had made his acquaintance many times. In her eyes, he was a strong man, a good, honest leader, however somewhat wit-lacking in the greater scheme of things.

Janoah smiled, “We are at your service, your grace.”
Reina admired the woman, she wasn’t of noble blood, that was certain. Her skin was tan and her hair a grubby brown, despite that, she was beautiful in her own kind of way.
“I am seeking a man of marriageable age, for Milena’s daughter.”
“Nolia is willing to marry?” Janoah’s voice went up in pitch, “Milena got through to her?”

“Not Nolia, Rionna.”
Janoah looked to her husband, who was standing beyond where Reina sat, her face questioning. Taol did not speak for awhile, he simply took another sip of his drink and then slowly, moved towards the women.
“She bleeds?” He asked bluntly.
Reina nodded, “Perfectly able to produce sons, with beautiful, red hair.”
“I believe I have what you’re looking for,” Taol smiled at his wife.

“Excellent!” Janoah grinned.
The families indentured to serve the Draki family were mostly of noble blood, they were hardened warriors whose job was to produce sons that could maintain control of the slave population in Iridia. And although Conri would never admit it, the bulk of his army stemmed from those bloodlines of Iridia. Reina had known that Taol Draki would have many able knights keen to take a high born girl as their wife, but that last part she had to make clear.
“There is one condition,” Reina put in slyly, “Milena wants her children married, under the old law, by the sanctity of the highest.”
There was a quiet as Reina watched for a response. The highest, she had spoken of, was the divine being the Oracles preached about, and in the time when men and Oracle had interwoven freely, they had all shared in devotions for the highest.
“Well, that’s easy enough, isn’t it, mother?” The voice chirped from down the hall, a girl’s voice.
Reina turned with wide eyes to watch the girl approach. She had dark, unruly hair that was left untamed to rest on her shoulders. She wore a faded green nightgown, and her feet skipped along the stone floor like pebbles across water.

“Your grace, I’d like to introduce one of my daughters,” Janoah chimed, “Layney, this is the Queen of Marlowe.”
“A pleasure,” the girl grinned, helping herself to a seat at the table. “Mother still practices the old religion, so you can imagine she and my father have no disagreements with holding a wedding, even if the King refuses to acknowledge its validity.”
“Layney!” Janoah gasped at her daughter’s words, turning to Reina. “She’s our wild child I’m afraid, I believe she’s still spiteful the King has asked for her twin, and not her, for his heir.”

Reina blinked. She had been away for so long that court proceedings had evaded her, but it didn’t take much aptitude to realise what Janoah’s words meant. Conri had asked for a Draki girl, for his eldest son and heir, the Crown Prince, Cohen.
“I have no interest in being a sex slave to any man, and my sister is daunted by the idea also,” Layney clarified. “I assure you.”
“Your sister will not be a sex slave, Layney.” Taol spoke calmly, but the sound of his voice was domineering, and certain. “I will refuse the King’s proposition unless he agrees that Kyra will be queen, or at least hold some kind of title that won’t shame us.”
Reina breathed in slowly, this was something unknown to her, that one of the most prominently loyal families had quarrels with the new laws? She could hear her heart beating slower as she came to a realisation. If there was war between Marlowe and Iridia, the only possible cause ever would be due to a discrepancy between the houses of Casimir and Draki. Surely Marlowe could not stand alone, without the aid of Iridia’s troops, and all that was established now would be lost. Perhaps Conri had foreseen that, and his attempt to evade a war was to ask for the Draki girl, but his attempt was ill thought, it appeared.


  1. I'm watching Nicholas Nickleby, Charlie Hunnam is devilish! In such a good mood as I'm getting a new tattoo tomorrow :D Unfortunately I'm having writers block, I know where I want this story to go but not sure how to get it there.

  2. Writer's block happens. I have pretty much the same sentiments in regards to my novel. :S

    Hmm, the Draki family seems much nicer than their reputation would imply. I hope it's not just an act, and that whatever son they have for Rionna is as pleasant a surprise as his parents and sister. And good on the family for giving the king that condition!

    1. I think I need to stop putting so much pressure on myself when it comes to writing, and instead just let it flow.